Jordan back on the global R&E map thanks to EUMEDCONNECT3
Cambridge | 3 October 2017
Last week the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) announced the upgrade of its dedicated link from Amman, Jordan, to its PoP in London, from 155 Mbps to 1 Gbps. This step has paved the way for the Jordanian University Network (JUNet) to re-connect to GÉANT, thus providing Jordanian universities access to R&E resources in Europe and the rest of the world. The international capacity injection is provided through the EU-funded EUMEDCONNECT3 project which supports international R&E connectivity for the Eastern Mediterranean region, including also Lebanon and Palestine.
ASREN/JUNet agreement signing in Amman: Dr. Talal Abu Ghazaleh, ASREN Chairman (middle); Prof. Ali M. Qaisi, JUNet Chairman (to his left); Mr Sami Smeirat, Deputy CEO of Orange (to his right).
JUNet’s agreement with ASREN was signed on 27 September in Amman in the presence of Dr. Talal Abu Ghazaleh, Chairman of ASREN, Prof. Ali M. Qaisi, Chairman of JUNet, and Mr Sami Smeirat, Deputy CEO of Orange.
Connecting 11 public universities and 12 community colleges across Jordan, JUNet now has again direct access to the global NREN infrastructure. In the past, JUNet had participated in the first two phases of the EUMEDCONNECT programme, but had been without dedicated international R&E capacity since 2011.
The reconnection was welcomed by the Jordanian R&E community, in particular by SESAME – the first synchrotron radiation facility in the Middle East which was officially unveiled earlier this year. Set up on the CERN model and located in Allan, north of Amman, SESAME is destined to become a major scientific hub in the region with unrivalled opportunities for international collaborative research in areas such as developing new materials, designing pharmaceuticals, probing the structure of DNA, assessing archaeological artefacts, measuring soil pollution and much else besides. As its particle accelerator enters production phase, it is expected to produce thousands of gigabytes every day which will be transferred to HPC centres in and outside the region for analysis, including partners in the EU-funded Virtual Research Environment Vi-SEEM project.
To help develop the synchrotron community in Jordan, a workshop titled “GÉANT, H2020 and European Synchrotron Sources” took place successfully in Amman in August with technical assistance and funding from the EU. Attracting over 100 scientists, the event was organised under the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument (TAIEX) of the European Commission.
As part of the connectivity agreement, SESAME sees its current international capacity via ASREN doubled from 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps, with the remaining 900 Mbps being allocated to support the rest of JUNet’s user constituency. Further upgrades are expected as Jordan’s activities ramp up.
With €3.2M EU-funding up to the end of 2019, the EUMEDCONNECT project supports research and education (R&E) networking for the Eastern Mediterranean (Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine). Now in its 3rd phase (EUMEDCONNECT3), it provides high-capacity international internet connectivity for academic and scientific collaborations. The project is managed by networking organisation GÉANT in partnership with ASREN, the local NRENs and the NRENs of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
Through its earlier phases the EUMEDCONNECT programme also provided a regional R&E network for North Africa, with Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia benefiting since 2004. In July 2015, the North African countries became partners in the new AfricaConnect2 project, also managed by GÉANT and ASREN. Close links with the EUMEDCONNECT3 community are being maintained as the two projects bring the African and Arab R&E communities together.